Who do transexuals date?
July 21, 2005 10:56 AM   Subscribe

CuriosityFilter: Who do transexuals date?

I recently watched a TV show about a transexual (a man becoming a woman). She was living life as a woman, but was anatomically still male. On the show, she went out to pick up guys at a bar.

So, my question is how does the transexual dating thing work? Does she date straight guys? And if so, what happens when the straight guy finds out she's still physically male? Or does she date gay guys? What if she wanted to date women? Would that make her technically gay or straight?

This isn't meant to be an offensive question, just a curiosity question. I don't know any transexuals personally, and I honestly wonder how it works.
posted by geeky to Human Relations (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
A lot of "straight" guys like the transexual thing. I say "straight" because I believe most who like them are gay but just don't know it yet. I've seen two transexuals date each other (talk about mind-fuck). Go on craiglist to see the amount of straight and gays that go for transexuals.

Of course it would be common courtesy (and self preservation) for a transexual to make it known they are a pre-op transexual.

See Hedwig and the Angry Inch for more details.
posted by geoff. at 11:10 AM on July 21, 2005

By way of my exwife, I have known more than a few transexuals of the male-to-female variety. Most were pre-op and prostitutes, so they switched often between top and bottom and their sex drives outside of business were virtually nil. The post-ops generally found their dates through their network and at gay bars.
posted by mischief at 11:10 AM on July 21, 2005

They date whomever they're attracted to. If they fancy men, they date men. If they fancy women, it's women they'll date. If they fancy evenings at home with a pint of Ben & Jerry's... you get the idea.
posted by hamster at 11:14 AM on July 21, 2005

Among my personal friends and acquaintances, one MTF dating a lesbian genetic female, one FTM married to a hetero genetic female. Tech workers and Ph.D.s, not prostitutes. Some marry other TSs, TGs, or non-trans bisexuals. I'm a bi genetic female and I would date either MTF or FTM if we found each other attractive.
posted by matildaben at 11:19 AM on July 21, 2005

What hamster said.

I've known some FTMs who are very, very straight. They date women exclusively, and like most men who are born that way, they'd suffer a real blow to their masculinity if they found they were attracted to another man.

I've known other FTMs who are bi, and others still who are gay (i.e. they date other men). I know one who prefers to date other FTMs.

I barely know any MTFs, so it's hard for me to say — but I assure you there's a similar range of orientations there.

Basically, birth sex, gender and orientation are all separate. The bits you were born with and the clothes you wear don't determine who you want to sleep with.
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:26 AM on July 21, 2005

OK, I get that transexuals date whomever they're attracted to. I guess I don't understand what kind of people are attracted to transexuals. Which gender are they attracted to - the biological gender or the gender the transexual wishes to be? Or is there a whole subset of people that are specifically attracted to transexuals?
posted by geeky at 11:33 AM on July 21, 2005

The answer to your question is yes, all of the above. It's not a cut and dried thing.
posted by Specklet at 11:45 AM on July 21, 2005

There are people who are specifically attracted to transsexuals. If you want evidence, look at all the MTF porn out there. Most of it's pretty unrealistic, of course, just like most porn in general. But yes, there are a lot of guys, and even some women I imagine, who are into that. There's also at least one guy who makes a living as an FTM porn star [nsfw]. He hasn't had bottom surgery and he was clearly born a woman, but he also looks very male. Some people are into that.

There are also people who wind up dating a transsexual even though they're not specifically into it. It's not a turn-on or a turn-off, it's just another fact about their partner.

The best pairings are the ones where each is attracted to the other's chosen gender. If you want to be a woman and your partner wants you to be a man (or vice versa) then things aren't going to go so well for the two of you.
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:55 AM on July 21, 2005

how about people just simply being attracted to people, and it NOT having to be biologically based? take hamster's answer one step further.
posted by atlatl at 11:55 AM on July 21, 2005

They're attracted to the person, like atlatl said. They're falling for people based on their senses of humor, stacked biceps, fat wallets, dimples, kindess to puppies, et cetera. Not so much their specific genital situtuation. That's why society prefers we all wear pants, so there's something to fall in love with besides the plumbing. (This is also why so few of us sniff one another's genitals when we meet, like dogs do. This way we can assess one another's strengths based on more important qualities.)
posted by hamster at 12:24 PM on July 21, 2005

I think, culturally, trannys have more in common with gays than straights just because gays are generally more accepting of diversity in gender identity, and they know what it's like to have to overcome societal pressure and remake yourself. Gay folks often take each new person as an individual and get to know their particular preferences, peccadillos, etc. Most straight people on this globe still walk around expecting anything with a penis to be one way, and anything with a vagina to be the other way. That mindset doesn't handle transgender issues very well.

But yeah, in terms of attraction and desire, I'm sure each individual is aroused by whatever makes him/her hot. There's no convention.
posted by scarabic at 12:32 PM on July 21, 2005

What Specklet and hamster said. I know only people who've gone MTF, and all of them did [and continue] to have relationships with girls. Some people might not able to deal with a partner changing gender, and there's nothing wrong with that. Others find that they care more about the person than their specific plumbing. Still others find that they've got a fetish-like attraction to transgendered people. There's no way to accurately describe all relationships involving transgendered people, just like there's no real way to explain how any other sort of relationship works.
posted by ubersturm at 12:37 PM on July 21, 2005

I have friends in a long-term relationship that both transgendered female-to-male. When they fell in love, they were boys, and they were "gay." Then one was a woman, and they were "straight." Then they were both women, and they were "lesbians." Not surprisingly, they think labels are pretty much beside the point.
posted by hamster at 1:59 PM on July 21, 2005

They date whomever they're attracted to. If they fancy men, they date men. If they fancy women, it's women they'll date. If they fancy evenings at home with a pint of Ben & Jerry's... you get the idea.

Oh gimmie a break, that's not an answer, that's a PFLAG pamphlet quote. Of course they pursue who they're attracted to. The question is where do they pursue these people without getting the shit kicked out of them for being obviously TG or when the person they have been seeing finds out/is told of their history?

The answer is usually "in the gay community" since that's the only real "Big Tent" they're welcomed in. And it's a real shame too since it's not a great fit for someone who would have been considered homosexual before their change. Some who are more convincing do their best to "pass" with varying success and different methods. Unfortunately violence against them by people who are unhappy at the surprise is very common.
posted by phearlez at 2:19 PM on July 21, 2005

phearlez, there's not really a blanket answer for a question like "where do they pursue these people?" any more than there's a blanket answer for "who do they date?" It helps to be in an urban area, I'm sure, and to be involved in both a workplace and a social scene that are more tolerant of 'alternative lifestyles.' Beyond that, there are as many answers as there are relationships. Some people join special organizations, some people find partners among friends or people they meet at activities, etc. A lot like everyone else, really, albeit the numbers tend to be worse, and in some situations they're even more likely to run into prejudice than gays.
posted by ubersturm at 2:44 PM on July 21, 2005

There are two degrees of "out" as a transsexual. If you ask me at work, I'm a lesbian. If you ask me in a club, I'm TS (if I can be bothered to get into the whole, "Oh reaaaally? But you look so... nooooormal..." thing). If you ask me at the supermarket, it's none of your business. Most of us are not "on" all the time.

I know TSes who date women, men, and all flavours of tranny. A lot of transsexuals -- like me, for example -- have their perception of gender boundaries a bit "broken", and would probably be surprised to be considered straight, gay, or bisexual: we just date who we date. I personally don't see a great deal of point in keeping male and female separate unless you want to make babies, and I date someone who doesn't so much blur the line between the sexes as rub it out and replace it with a carefully-shaded line drawing of a kitten.

As for how we date, the people I would consider to be in my tranny generation (UKers between the ages of 20 and 30 who transitioned in the last eight years or so) met the people they date at university LGBs or other support/social organisations, or through the internet. Not many trannies of my acquaintance go looking in clubs and bars, because it's dangerous, it's random, and you're looking for a pretty small subsection of the population: people who could be attracted to someone who has, or used to have, something strange in their knickers.

Most trannies of about my age find partnership on the internet because it's the first place you go when you start asking the big scary question. The friendships you form with a support group are the ones that can last while all the friends you met at school fall away, and it's probably pretty easy to fall in love with someone who stood by you when everything was shit. Some of these relationships are disastrous, of course, but lots aren't, and it does rather answer the "mind fuck" question of two transsexuals dating: because at a crucial point in both their lives, everyone else fucked off.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:18 PM on July 21, 2005

Who do transexuals date?


Well, in one case at least. My last gf was a biological female who wanted to be a guy. She's dressed to pass on a few occasions but, bottom line, her chest is just too large for her to convince anyone she's a guy. So whenever I was with her, she was just an extremely butch female.
posted by Clay201 at 4:35 PM on July 21, 2005

phearlez, while it may be true that trannies are *more* welcome in the queer community, it's not a universal. I look forward to the day when it isn't about gender for anyone. But realistically, yes, most people are attracted to a gender first and then to the person - but that's not always the case. There just isn't a black and white answer here and to indicate as much is discounting basic humanity.

Also, oddly enough there was a question on this (or very similar) topic a while back. I can't find it, but I know it's out there somewhere.
posted by FlamingBore at 5:16 PM on July 21, 2005

FlamingBore made a terribly true point: trannies are most accepted in the queer community, but gay men (and even lesbians (to a lesser degree, I think)) can be surprisingly prejudiced and segregated when you get right down to it.

Now let's be honest, you can't *force* yourself to be attracted to someone you're not, but a lot of gays/lesbians won't even associate with trannies, much less date them; like a lot of other groups, they find people similar to latch onto and latch on for dear life they do--for better or for worse.

Transexuals are just like any group, though. They'll date people whom like them and they like back. Labels help us to get an understanding of these things, but after a point they just limit further comprehension. :)
posted by mercurysm2 at 6:20 PM on July 21, 2005

Thanks all - very interesting answers. I've never spoken to a transexual, so I didn't realize that their view of gender and thus their view of sexuality was much more fluid than mine. I guess in my mind I was trying to put them into neat little categories with everyone else, and they just didn't fit the way I thought they should - hence my question.
posted by geeky at 6:54 PM on July 21, 2005

Judith Butler has some great writing on fluidity within sexual identity.
This sight has some info on her,
and this one has some writing on perhaps her most relavant book to this discussion, Gender Trouble,
posted by iwouldificould at 11:10 AM on July 22, 2005

I forgot to spell check. Oh well. Come to think of it where is my spell check?
posted by iwouldificould at 11:13 AM on July 22, 2005

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